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I use English Language Learners forums a lot. In fact, I was in the top 0.48% of reputation earners, but just a couple days ago, I was sitting in an English Lecture, when I noticed that a little of my reputation (about 40 pts) was gone. Almost immediately afterwards, I received a message from the moderators of the site saying that I had been banned for 30 days for "sock puppeting". Turns out that they thought I had used another account to upvote a number of my own posts. I contacted the moderators regarding this issue--obviously I had no reason to do this, surely they'd repeal the ban--but this action was to no avail. They didn't even respond. The next day, I come into class and my classmate was joking about how he was able to successfully get my account banned on the English Language Learning site. Here's the problem:

  • Same IP Address because it's the school Wi-Fi.
  • Said student can continue to create accounts and upvote my posts until I become suspended.
  • There's no way for me to prove that it's not me upvoting my posts.
  • I can't post or participate if I am continuously banned.
  • I upvoted some of this students posts, because I know him and found his answers to be helpful (one of his answers was also accepted by another user, putting his reputation over the top)

How should I go about this without getting suspended anymore, and being able to keep my account where I've earned a decent amount of reputation? I'm asking about someone intentionally trying to get me suspended.

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"Friend Voting" is also reason for suspension, even when it's clearly done by two different people. If you upvote only, or mainly, your friend's posts, and your friend is only/mainly upvoting yours, it's not acceptable, even if you think each other's posts are "helpful".

That said, if you were really active member of the site and voted posts from lots of other people, I assume that if you prove the other account belongs to a different person, you should indeed get the suspension lifted. To achieve this, you should contact SE staff, who has better tools.

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    Also, stop voting on your "friend"s posts, even if they deserve the vote. This may be tricky if he is creating throwaway accounts to upvote you from, and you don't recognize them, but part of the confirmation process for sockpuppets is symmetry. – Kate Gregory Mar 25 '18 at 13:26
  • “Friend Voting” might be the reason, 40 reputation is only 4 upvotes, so this friend only upvoted 4 questions/answers but it’s not clear how many contributions the author upvoted of his friend. So it wasn’t the republican the author earned but gave away through their own actions that got them banned – Ramhound Mar 25 '18 at 16:12
  • Thanks you for the excellent answer. I'm going to quit voting on accounts that have less than 100 reputation to be extra safe after your advice, that way it's harder for him to get the reputation he needs. I think that it wouldn't hurt stack exchange to increase the voting reputation. Voting Is a privilege after all. – Element115 Mar 25 '18 at 16:52
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    @Element115 cheers, and good luck. – ShaWiz Mar 25 '18 at 18:07
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    How does one (or Stack) tell the difference between "friend voting" and "same IP voting when you did not know it was happening nor did you want it"? The latter being this case (apparently), isn't it entirely unfair to punish someone for it? – James Mar 25 '18 at 22:42
  • You don't. There's no real way to tell. Short of account deletion or vote invalidation, there's no targeted way to deal with this – Journeyman Geek Mar 25 '18 at 22:48
  • @JourneymanGeek that's why I think voting rep should be increased. – Element115 Mar 26 '18 at 0:59
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    While that changes the barrier of entry, it doesn't quite fix the underlying problem - that your friend thinks its funny to sabotage someone knowing the system. There's a word for people like that. – Journeyman Geek Mar 26 '18 at 1:19
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Practically speaking - there's no magic way for mods to tell you weren't serial voting. At best we see IP matches, and some broad voting trends, and end up making a decision.

And well, you're asking SE to help with the suspension but only you can really stop your friend from voting for you. Well or get his account deleted, but that might be an escalation.

And mods hear "I have no idea this is happening!" or "It was my friend" a lot. Even giving you the benefit of the doubt, this is something you're going to have to talk to your friend about as something that's clearly unacceptable behaviour.

In short? Its probably up to you to get your friend to stop doing it. SE can help, but at the end of the day, unless the behaviour in question stops one way or the other, there's not much to be done.

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    You can take the "how to make my friend stop serial voting me?" to Interpersonal Skills.SE. – Patrick Hofman Mar 25 '18 at 11:50
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    @PatrickHofman if it was truly a friend, who just needs to be persuaded, yes. The problem with people who do things "for the lulz" is that when you eloquently and accurately tell them that their actions are causing you distress, they roll around laughing and say "bullseye!" and post that stupid rage troll face and whatever else they use to indicate they succeeded. And then they keep right on doing it. – Kate Gregory Mar 25 '18 at 13:28
  • Or their account gets nuked. And since you need a minimum amount of rep to vote... – Journeyman Geek Mar 25 '18 at 13:47
  • Thank you for this good perspective. Yes it's one of those things when you tell them they are doing something wrong they think it's funny. I realize there is probably a lot of people who that and then complain about it. I'm hoping I can convince him it's not funny to get my account banned. I think SE should increase the voting rep some, it would prevent things like this from happening. – Element115 Mar 25 '18 at 16:54
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    Extending that @KateGregory, what if they weren't friends? Someone in the class or just school/uni block trolling them? Would you even find out who to even ask them to stop? I always find this an odd rule, but not sure how else they can stop friend voting – James Mar 25 '18 at 22:44

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